One Vote…

6 05 2010

Over the past few weeks, I have been subjected to various facebook updates from people telling me who to vote for today. Most of these I have read, and subsequently ignored. However, that’s changed today. Not because I read an update which convinced me to vote one way or the other, but because I read an update which really got me worked up.

It was a negative update, meaning it wasn’t a ‘vote for them’, but instead was a ‘don’t vote for them’ update. Of which I must have seen about a million in recent times. However the message, paraphrased, was ‘think of the rest of society and don’t vote for them’. This angered me.

Voting should be a distinctly personal thing. You vote for the person who you think will do the best job for you. There should be little more to it than that. If the system works then the result is what society wants. You should not feel pressurised into voting for a party because it is for the good of a society, large (the entire population) or small (your local sports club). You should vote for the person who identifies with the issues that you have, who seems to have at least some of the solutions, and who appeals to you (bearing in mind, of course, you are not voting for the party leader – unless you live in their constituency – you are voting for an MP to represent you at parliament). This means, therefore, that all the talk of tactical voting which has been had in recent days has been, effectively, about removing power from the electorate, and letting the parties (in this case the Labour party) make the decision for you. I reiterate the point, if the system works then it should be a clear indication of what the significant percentage of the population want as a government. You cannot, and should not consider the rest of society when voting. You should vote for who you want to vote for, free from peer pressure, social pressure, or any other forms of pressure. There is a reason, after all, you are placed in an individual booth to vote. If we let society dictate how we should vote then the damage has already been done. You need not have individual voting booths, as show of hands at a town hall would suffice instead.

It really annoys me that people should feel pressured into voting a certain way. The vote, a decision you should reach based on what you have heard, read or seen, should be yours to do with what you wish. Of course there are electoral problems with the British system, the Independent has been fighting this reform battle for years, and the outcome of Brown getting in with the most MP’s, but the fewest votes would serve to further highlight the systems failures. I remain unconvinced that a proportional representation system would or could work, but it is clear that recent boundary changes made by the Labour government have worked towards making the outcome mentioned above a possibility. The solution is to better redefine the boundaries so there is a more even spread of votes per constituency. Of course, how you do this whilst simultaneously reducing the number of MP’s as suggested by Cameron will prove much harder.

Whatever the result, the key thing is that politics doesn’t win with tactical voting. The voters, so very disillusioned with MP’s in recent times, should be free to have their say, without the feeling of pressure from anywhere. They should, and I hope, will vote for whoever they want to vote for based upon the grounds that matter to them. There is, and should be, nothing more to it than that.





The Choice…

7 04 2010

So I sit here having just submitted another job application. Whilst I do not fall into the “record youth unemployment” that Mr Brown has apparently created, I am, as most are, feeling the effects of the past few years. Finding work is difficult, yes, but there is something even more difficult approaching us. The question of who to vote for.

This will be the first general election that I am eligible to vote in. I missed the last one by a few months. So I feel that I should be feeling a sense of excitement. A sense of knowing that finally I am able to have a say in the country beyond local elections. A sense of arrival into the adult world of taxes and crime and pensions and housing.

But I’m not. I’m feeling disillusioned. I’m feeling like I don’t particularly want to vote on 6 May. I know I will vote, of course I will. But I don’t know who I will vote for. I know it will not be Labour, I’m frustrated by Brown and his ‘old guard’ who seem intent on red-taping everything that can physically be taped. That choice isn’t particularly hard.

The question is, should I vote Tory? I could, I mean, it seems to be the ‘easy’ thing to do. It’s probably the only rational choice if I’m keen on really having a say on who governs. But there’s something making me pause. Something holding me back from casting off my youth and throwing myself into the arms of Cameron et al. Something which looks like this. And I really don’t like it. Negative campaigning is as destructive to yourself as it is to the opposition. It reinforces the idea that the Tories don’t have all that much to say. It reinforces the idea that this election is not about ideas, but about personality. Most of all, it reinforces the idea that the Tories are desperate. They know they’ve lost significant ground in recent months, and are now trying to play with the suggestion that it’s pointless, and, by implication, dangerous to vote for the other guy.

But of course there’s more than one ‘other guy’. Ask Nick Clegg. There’s always that option too. Voting for the Lib Dems. Middle of the road politics with little hope of achieving much beyond a parliamentary footnote. That could be an ‘easy’ vote too. Except then of course, in the event of a hung parliament (one caused, of course by my own indecisiveness), the Lib Dems suddenly have all the cards. They probably would throw their weight behind Cameron, but the parliament would be weak, and probably even more of a threat to economic recovery. That might not happen if I stick with the Tories. If enough people like me realise that not voting Tory would hinder us in the mid/long term, then perhaps we could avoid a problematic hung-parliament situation.

Of course I could play my own moral card. I could vote for the Greens. I’d feel better in that I’d be lending my voice to a specific cause. However then there’s the issue of throwing my vote away, because, in all likelihood, the Greens are going to achieve nothing in the election. The sense of feeling ‘adult’ and concerning myself with taxes and crime and pensions and housing would be gone, stripped from me for the next five years. By that time, of course, there may be a clear path, someone who has said something which has made me sit up and listen. Something which has really made me think that they are the right person to support as they are the person who is engaging with the things I’m concerned with. Then again, there may not be that path, and my hope for feeling ‘adult’ may not happen for another ten years. Or fifteen. Suddenly I’m at the point where my mid-life crisis has hit and politically I’m still not feeling ‘adult’ as the things which the politicians should be speaking to me about are not being said.

And so the choice is a hard one. The options and implications are not good enough for me whatever path I choose. The Tories don’t fill me with confidence, and whilst I’m more optimistic about a government under Cameron than I am under Brown, this is only, for me, the lesser of the two evils. It’s like being optimistic that you’re only going to get burned by your toaster this month, as opposed to your toaster and your kettle last month.

There is of course, one final option. I could turn up, put a cross in all the boxes, leave my paper spoilt and feel that I’ve made my own political point. Ultimately meaningless, of course, but it would be my own message to the politicians. Except that this feeling of rebelliousness would fade very quickly, and the feeling of regret that my determination to pass into the land of the ‘adult’  has been ruined by a petulant act of teenage rebellion would stick around for all of the next five years.





Checkered Warnings…

5 11 2008

If you’ve had one eye on the news this week you will have seen how Lewis Hamilton won the F1 drivers championship in dramatic fashion in the last corners of the Brazillian Grand Prix. It was the first time a black person had won the championship.

Also, in America there was the small matter of an election. If you check many people’s facebook statuses you are likely to find out the outcome. Yup, that’s right Barack Obama fairly comprehensively beat John McCain to become the 44th President of the US of A. This election was different to Hamilton’s win, there was no dramatic comeback, no nail-biting moments as the Obama camp had pretty much controlled the race to the White House from start to finish. In all the analysis of the election victory, it is shown that Obama and his team got themselves ahead in the polls, and stayed there.

In the subsequent media overload Obama has captured the imagination of the world, nevermind America. The leftists have gushingly (and rather sickeningly) rushed to pronounce the saviour of world liberty. The right-wing in Britain have pointed to a new era of politician taking the helm.

All that is done and dusted now though. Here is where the real work begins. All the election work was good, but now Obama will be made by how he acts in relation to a few key matters, namely the economy, the war in Iraq, and global warming. These three have been discussed in varying amounts in the campaign, but, as they say, talk is cheap. There can be no illusions, this is the peak for Obama. It is all downhill from here. Now he is the public sweetheart, the apple of the eye of Americans, Brits, and Kenyans, apparently. Now he is on a high where the media love him. This cannot, and will not last. Once the media get their teeth into someone they can be painted however the media wants. Bush, for example, is still a buffoon, someone who cannot speak, write and is about as intelligent as a monkey. Yet he was clever enough to get himself elected now wasn’t he?

My point is that the media will soon fall out of love with Obama, unless he comes good on his promises. Even then situations may dictate that he may have to become the ‘bad guy’, or the ‘fall guy’. The old adage still stands true, what goes up must indeed come down. Obama is at the top now. The world are rejoicing at such a momentous occasion, as indeed this is. We should not get carried away though, and pretend that America has completely changed, there are still pockets of people (McCain voters) who are suspect of Obama due to skin colour. This is the legacy of history, and it will not be easily altered.

Whilst listening to the radio on the way to work I heard an interesting text message read out. It ran “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk so Barack Obama could run so our children can fly.” This though I feel adequately reveals the problems still to be overcome. Running to flying was a hell of a leap. Many are still maintaining that he won because of his skin colour rather than his politics. I think this, to some extent perhaps rings true. Only time will tell how he will be judged. At the moment he can do no wrong. Some day soon he will have to do so by some.